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Big box becomes battle-ready

LAURENS — It looked like Walmart had prepared for an onslaught of looters or zombies, perhaps in an effort to keep the toilet paper safe. Employees had barricaded the entrance with turned over carts wrapped in yellow caution tape.

In reality, the store was following new corporate guidelines meant to force social distancing among customers entering and exiting the store.

Believe me, it worked.

It's the emptiest the parking lot has been since I moved to Clinton four years ago and everyone inside the store kept their distance.

Maybe it was a psychosomatic reaction, or just something in my head, but after walking past the big box store battlements I felt unwell. I couldn't even make it back to the empty toilet paper shelves before feeling warm. (No fever, I checked. Again.)

Let me tell you, there was urgency on my part. I got through the store in record time, grabbing all of the items on my list — and little else — and going through a surprisingly short line.

After paying, I barreled through the fortifications and made my way to the car, quickly feeling more at ease.

Ah, back to safety. Now where's my hand sanitizer?

Contact Assistant Editor Matthew Hensley at or on Twitter @IJMattHensley.

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From telecommuting to the new public home school model, a growing number of us are homebound for the foreseeable future as we take unprecedented steps to slow and hopefully stop the spread of the new coronavirus that is sweeping the world. This blog is our attempt to catalog some of the daily changes we are experiencing together. If you want to share your story with us, email us at



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